IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has said that the Organics Scheme in the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 needs to be amended to increase uptake, as the current payment regime will not attract farmers to reach the objectives in the Plan.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said that €44m is available in the RDP but it would now appear that the uptake will fall short of the objectives set out in the Plan. Currently over 1% of land area is covered by organics, while the EU average is 5.7%. If the scheme is not changed, the targets in the Plan will not be met.
Joe Brady said “The organic scheme is an important measure for those farmers who opt to convert from conventional farming to organics. It is also vital that there is critical mass in this sector.”
IFA has made the following proposals to the Department of Agriculture:
- Payment levels should be front loaded to reflect the higher fixed costs of registration and certification.
- The payment levels should be as follows:
o €315 for the first 20ha
o €170 for the next 40ha
- The conversion payment should be increased proportionately.
- The minimum stocking level for livestock farmers in hill areas should be reduced from 0.5lu/ha to 0.15lu/ha.
- There needs to be more flexibility in the rotation of measures for better utilisation and protection of soils.
- In order to encourage locally produced organic feed, a specific measure should be included to encourage farmers.
- A payment for forage crop, turnip, kale, rape etc. or barley oats would address the shortage in meal feeding during winter. Currently, the majority of feed is imported and expensive. A payment on up to 5ha per farm at a rate of up to €450 per ha would encourage self-sufficiency.
- Flexibility in the replacement of stock – currently 10% to increase to 40%.
- Other technical aspects need to be changed to make the scheme more practical.